Best practices for the future of collaboration
Remember that technology may make it possible to connect with more people but that doesn't mean we instantly collaborate. The world is more connected than ever, but a side effect is that it's also more 'noisy' and complex than ever - hard to make sense of. And now we get to make contact with a much wider range of views, so we disagree more often. Humans generally don't do well with uncertainty and disagreement - just look at Twitter with anything political.
It's a big topic, but I'd focus on one thing for now. Collaboration is a lot easier when you can get people to focus not on the views of other people vs yourself, but on the task you are all trying to get done, the problem you are trying to solve, or the question you are trying to answer. People too often jump straight in to arguing different ideas on what we should do - solutions.
Before that you have to answer two other questions:
- What is the need i.e. what is the current situation, and what is wrong/missing? Why do we need to do anything? If you can't agree the problem, you'll argue about solutions forever. This creates focus and urgency to move.
- What would 'good' look like? What outcome do we want to achieve? How do we want the world to be as a result of our efforts? Without this sense of what direction we are travelling and how far, even if you agree the problem, people will pull in different directions. This creates alignment
Once you have those down, you can then talk about the options you have to get from 1 to 2. You'll be amazed how much less tension and more creativity is possible now.
Having said to focus on one thing for now, there is a follow up point :) We get used to identifying ourselves in particular ways - particular opinions, being a certain type of person, doing certain kinds of work, being skilled in certain things. That's all fine, but uncertainty and difference mean we will all be challenged more often to stretch beyond what we know more often, to explore, discover and create new things. That means feeling Ok about ourselves even when life gets messy and difficult. As someone once told me, hold our 'truth' but hold it lightly. Go into conversations and collaborations with curiosity because you might find you learn something new, and get a bigger sense of yourself and the world. So to collaborate well, you have to loosen your grip on any fixed views of the world, other people, and yourself.
Hope this is useful. :)
32 months ago
In the rush to demonstrate possibilities related to remote "teaming," recall that certain aspects of high velocity work benefit from co-location, visual management, and ad hoc interpersonal interaction with an "aligned" team (shared principles/methods/values/focus) that can't easily be replaced or guaranteed by purely digital means. Even given all the robust digital solutions/tools imaginable, I have more confidence in creating stellar teamwork and high performance real-time work flow through an interactive flow cell of cross-trained workers than I do overseeing and orchestrating real-time team progress in serving today's customer needs through shared digital mailboxes and project templates. The ideal combination is to have the core (80/20 rule) activities supported by face-to-face teammates supported by digital tools and real-time remote connections to the occasional specialist input enabled by digital means.
I see some common threads that lead me to believe that virtual teams, at least, will work best when overseen by an expert facilitator/moderator. A persistent problem I have experienced when working with teams is a failure to coalesce around WHAT we are trying to achieve, which can set in at many levels. It is extremely pernicious when a team is assembled to solve a problem for a group of users who are having their own hard time coming to grips with what their problem actually is and what kind of a solution they need.
32 months ago
Co-locating the learning and the learner, while best in many cases, can be overcome with the ease of using videoconferencing, including right to your handheld device. Bringing diverse views and talents together has never been easier and can be part of the learning process as well.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. In any change initiative, there are 3 phases of communication, all of which should happen face-to-face if possible:
(1) Ask for feedback on the proposed change before the change is implemented. Sharing the vision and asking for ways to make it better not only can make it better, but shows that you truly care about the feedback and are willing to incorporate it.
(2) Ask for feedback during the change implementation process from all who are affected. Is it going as hoped? Are there ways to course correct if needed? Can we make the process better as we go?
(3) Ask for feedback after the change is made. And by after, I mean a few weeks later to give the change a reasonable chance to begin to take hold.
I cannot say enough about communication throughout the change process. It should be a complete 360 loop so that all involved are constantly working to implement the change in a manner that best suits the organization.